I came across this wonderful article which explained the psychological benefits of listening to music. I wanted to write a blog about it as it was extremely striking to me just how vast the benefits were- from relaxing your mood, to managing pain or even assisting in weight loss- yes, studies have shown!
I find a lot of articles that talk about the benefits of music usually discuss it from a standpoint of someone who studies music. This article was very different and talked about it from an everyday person view. If you think about it, most of us get ready to music, travel listening to music, pop the radio on when we get to work and then listen to music on the commute home, then watch some tv with music in it! So, for some of us, we spend several hours a day listening to music. I know for myself, train journeys are more entertaining , I perform better at the gym when exercising to upbeat music and concentrate better when driving on the motorway if I have some fun songs to sing a long to.
So what are these physiological benefits?
Let’s explore numbers 1 and 2!
NUMBER 1: Listening to Music Can Improve Your Cognitive Performance
Research suggests that (adults who listen to) background music, or music that is played while the listener is primarily focused on another activity, can improve performance on cognitive tasks.
One study found that playing more upbeat music led to improvements in processing speed while both upbeat and downbeat music led to benefits in memory. Can you think of a time that that worked for you? Like if you had a deadline to meet and you put on house music or had to get the house ready quickly for guests or if you listened to some classical music whilst reading something and found that you remembered it a lot longer you usually remember things?
NUMBER 2: Music Can Reduce Stress
It has long been suggested that music can help reduce or manage stress. Consider the trend centerred on meditative music created to soothe the mind and inducing relaxation. Fortunately, this is one trend supported by research. Listening to music can be an effective way to cope with stress.
In one 2013 study, participants took part in one of three conditions before being exposed to a stressor and then taking a psychosocial stress test. Some participants listened to relaxing music, others listened to the sound of rippling water, and the rest received no auditory stimulation.
The results suggested that listening to music had an impact on the human stress response, particularly the autonomic nervous system. Those who had listened to music tended to recover more quickly following a stressor.
I know when I first passed my driving test I would listen to music to calm me for the first times I drove on my own and it really helped relieve my stress in that situation- can you think of any other situations when music helped to relieve your stress? I know the radio on at the dentists has helped me block out the sound of the drill or the pain of a new filling being fitted!